Review: Samsung Galaxy Camera

Review: Samsung Galaxy Camera

I remember the exact moment my Samsung Galaxy Camera stopped working. I had just finished taking shots of some hapless pigeons, barely a week after I got the device, when I accidentally bumped the screen against the phone in my pocket. This love tap was enough to break the LCD panel, transforming the $749 camera into a very expensive paperweight.

It’s a shame the Galaxy Camera broke when it did because, apart from that disastrous hardware failure, I had a fantastic time with it.

Hardware

Samsung’s all-plastic smart camera feels anything but cheap, and weighing 300g there’s a reassuring heft to the device.

It’s shaped like most other point-and-shoots on the market, but at the size of a small paperback book, it’s a lot chunkier than most modern compacts. It’ll still fit inside your pocket, if only just.

The Galaxy Camera’s largess is to accommodate the aforementioned 4.8-inch display which takes up most of the back. The display panel is bright, and easy to use even under direct sunlight. It’s capable of playing 720p video, meaning you can watch YouTube videos in HD. 

As someone used to 3-inch DSLR screen, playing back videos and photos on the Galaxy Camera’s screen was a real treat. If it hadn’t broken so easily I would’ve said the display panel was the camera’s best feature.

The Galaxy Camera comes with 8 GB of onboard storage, which can be expanded to 72 GB with a micro-SD card. If that’s not enough, you can always redeem the 48 GB of free Dropbox space that comes with every unit.

Inserting a 3G SIM to the camera lets you post updates wherever you are, or backup your photos to the cloud on the go.

(Samsung Galaxy Camera launch event in Sydney, last year)

Camera

The 16 MP camera combined with the sharp 21x optical zoom lens, creates some impressive photos. In good light, there is no noise, and the quality of the glass means there’s hardly any noticeable distortion in the photos. 

Out of the box, the Galaxy Camera is set to intelligent auto mode which helps the user take snaps quickly and without having to think. More seasoned photographers can take the reigns with manual controls for ISO, shutter, and aperture, which are adjusted using an onscreen mode dial.

The built in image stabiliser helps reduce the blurring effect from a shaky hand. The camera’s autofocus system is quick in well lit areas, but when it’s dark you can easily lose the moment as it searches for focus . The Galaxy Camera has an ISO range of 100 to 3200, however anything beyond 400 will start producing very noisy images.

What impressed me most about the Galaxy Camera is its video prowess. The picture quality is fantastic, and again the stablisation once comes in handy to keep your footage from looking like a shaky cellphone video. 

The Smarts

Running on Android Jelly Bean, the Galaxy Camera’s operating system is the same you’d find on the latest flagship phones such as the Galaxy S III. 

A 1.4 GHz quad-core processor is grunty enough to run memory intensive apps from the Google Play store, or even just play games on the large screen. Multitasking on the camera was smooth, and I didn’t experience any force closures or lagging animations. And yes, you can use the Galaxy Camera to take Instagram photos of your breakfast (if you’re that way inclined).

Battery

Samsung claims the Galaxy Camera’s battery life will take it through 340 shots, or six hours of browsing the internet. 

On average I got around five hours of use with the camera while taking a small number of photos, surfing the net, and with light app use. When used purely as a camera, the device could easily go two days without charging. I guess your experience with the battery will depend on whether you use the Galaxy Camera as just a camera, or as a tiny tablet which happens to take good photos.

In either case, the batteries are replaceable so you can carry a spare for emergencies.

Verdict

Samsung’s Galaxy Camera is fun to use, has a gorgeous screen, and full of functionality. I see the camera as an easy way to upload holiday snaps to social networks quickly without carrying around a computer, or being limited to the photo capabilities of your smartphone.

However, the $750 price point makes it difficult for me to recommend. The same amount of money will get you a Micro 4/3 camera which produces DSLR quality images and in many cases will be even smaller than the Galaxy Camera. 

The apps are a killer feature, but not one I find particularly intriguing. The convenience of editing photos, playing games, and using apps on the same device doesn’t outweigh the price, and the fact that I already have a perfectly capable phone in my pocket.